This is the second of two reviews of 1989 Cragganmores. Unlike yesterday’s iteration this one is from a refill sherry cask. It was bottled for K&L in California for their Faultline label. This is the second Cragganmore they’ve bottled in that series, and I’ve had a sample of the previous one, a 20 yo, 1991 from a bourbon cask. That one didn’t impress me overmuch. As I paid for a full bottle of this one I’m hoping it puts on a better showing. I have a pretty good streak going with K&L’s selections and despite what I think of their marketing ways I’m not bloody-minded (or rich) enough to want to have paid for middling or poor whisky just so I can complain about them even more.
Cragganmore 23, 1989 (54.6%; single refill sherry cask; from my own bottle)
Nose: Orange peel and cloves. With more time there’s apricot jam and a leafy quality; some salt too. Very nice. With even more time notes of brandied raisins emerge and some toasted oak and roasted malt as well. Water mellows it out and emphasizes the raisins and the wood.
Palate: Simpler on the palate with sweet raisins and a bit of citrus and then a sharp turn towards a salty shore. Soft texture. Some burnt toast on the second sip, more citrus on the third. Let’s see what water does. Hmmm it brings out more citrus but also makes it sharper and woodier. Okay, let’s give it some time. And here we are: good news! with more time the sharp wood recedes and what we have now is darker, sweeter raisiny notes along with a bit of caramel.
Finish: Long. Salty with some of the dark sweetness hanging out with slightly bitter woody accents. More citrus after a bit. As on the palate with water but the sharp wood is more pronounced here. And time does wonders for the finish as well.
Comments: The nose is very nice, the palate is more generic. Not a whole lot of complexity for a 23 yo malt but the Faultline series doesn’t promise that kind of thing. On the whole, probably good value for a Cragganmore of this age but it’s not a profile you haven’t had before or which isn’t going to come around again next week in a sherried malt from some other distillery. Still, while not very distinctive it is rather pleasurable.
Rating: 87 points.